NEW ORLEANS — Beginning Wednesday, both lanes of River Road in Avondale between Bridge City Avenue and LA-18 will be closed.
The closure is necessary for Entergy to rebuild the transmission lines and tower damaged during Hurricane Ida.
Heavy winds during the late August storm blew down the old tower, turning it into a heap of twisted and rusted metal.
Drone video showed power lines fallen into the muddy Mississippi River.
Massive concrete footings, sunk deep into the ground will be the foundation for the new tower.
“The construction of this tower is really part of an ongoing resiliency program to build a more robust grid,” Entergy Louisiana President and CEO Phillip May told WWL-TV.
May says the new 475-foot tower and one like it across the river in Harahan will be built to withstand 175 mile per hour winds, the strongest towers ever built on the system.
The old ones had a 120 mile per hour standard, May added.
“We realize that the last two years have demonstrated the increasing intensity and frequency of these storms call for a different practice," May said.
May calls the re-engineered towers an example of Entergy’s ongoing resiliency program.
“If you have another event like Ida, there’s always a possibility that Mother Nature can take out those towers,” May said. “The difference would be because of the revised construction standard it will be a much quicker process to get the lights on.”
Eight major transmission lines that bring power to the New Orleans area went down during Ida.
The construction of the new towers, the last local electrical pathway will be back online, since last year’s storm left most of the metro area without power for a week or more.
Jefferson Parish Emergency Operations Director Joe Valiente says it’s important to get this part of the grid back in business.
“I do know this is an important piece of infrastructure and it’s important that we get it right and from all indications, from what we see Entergy and all our state partners who are working with Entergy on this are moving in the right direction,” Valiente said.
He added, in the aftermath of a storm, power is everything.
“Had this line remained intact, Entergy would have had far greater transferring options with this line intact,” Valiente said. “So, this particular tower is critical.”
Entergy hopes to have the transmission lines strung across the river and back in service by August, prior to the peak of hurricane season.
“All that’s left of the connection is to connect between Avondale and Harahan,” May said. “All the rest of the line has been reconstructed. There was some damage further upstream from that line. That has all been repaired.”
Jefferson Parish released a statement about the road closures while contractors build Entergy’s new tower in Avondale.
Work is scheduled to be divided into two phases. The first phase closure will be completed on Monday, June 6, 2022. The second phase closure will start on Monday, July 11, 2022, and end on Monday, August 1, 2022.
Drivers traveling southbound on River Road (LA 541) will detour around the closure using Bridge City Avenue, US HWY 90 and River Road (LA 18). Motorists wanting to travel northbound on River Road (LA 541) should instead use US HWY. 90 and Bridge City Avenue to detour around the closure.